We get a few benchmarks for rites of passage, driving at 16, coming to kindergarten at 5, voting at 18. Others are a little looser, PG13 movie admittance, the age at which you can be alone at home, or babysit. But for so many of the judgment calls of parenting, it’s you, the parents who have to make the call. Sometimes it is helpful to know what other families do….for a couple of our families, chores are a sort of rite of passage, and it surprises me how early the kids start. A three year old couldn’t wait to help, so folding the kitchen towels out of the dryer was one of his first jobs. We may need to loosen our standards a bit, but taking advantage of their eagerness to help is a so important in the long run. Another three year old is in charge of getting his dirty clothes down the clothes chute, not the shoes, just the clothes, and most of the time he does it with glee, other times not so much, but he does the job regularly.
Sleepovers, when is the time right, is it ever? Your kids may well be better behaved than I was when we were kids, but we did way too many stupid things at sleepovers, and all without the added benefit of technology! “Tame the Sleepover” from At Home with our Faith has a few great suggestions (the parentheses are mine):
- Enforce house rules. “I collect all the phones and electronic devices when the kids arrive and power down our computers,” says one mom. I do it in a lighthearted way, and I tell the girls, “You are here to have fun with each other – not to text kids who are not here.”
- Make sure they are old enough. “Parents in my children’s school were having sleepovers in kindergarten,” says a mom of five. “I thought that was too young. My kids had to wait until fourth grade, when they were old enough to call me if something was wrong.” (A tough thing to do if they don’t have a phone…..thus another mom’s rule, “ We have enough going on in our family that we can’t have a grouch for a day after sleepovers, we don’t have them and my kids know they don’ t go.”)
- Try a sleepunder instead. “I am not a fan of sleepovers,” says a dad of two. “The kids are exhausted and cranky the next day. The parents in our class have agreed to ‘sleepunders’. Kids go to the host’s house in their pajamas, then they have pizza, watch a movie, and parents pick them up at 10 p.m. or so.” God bless.